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IraqSide:Media
Daily Column
Anbar Tribesmen Defeat Al-Qaeda Cell
Iraqi Turkmen Form Militia; Baghdad Security Developments
By ZEYAD KASIM 03/18/2007 10:01 AM ET
The Scoop from Key Iraqi Arabic-language Websites

Armed tribesmen in the Eastern Husayba village (5 km east of Ramadi) in the Anbar Governorate managed to drive out a local insurgent group associated with the Al-Qaeda in Iraq organization from their village, while residents discovered a mass grave of 16 citizens killed by militants in the area, Sot Al-Iraq reported. The campaign started Friday after gunmen abducted a local boy named Yassir, prompting his mother to go out on the street screaming and urging the villagers to carry arms and find her only son. Dozens of men from the area armed with pistols, rifles and machine guns grouped and started searching the palm orchards surrounding their village while shouting tribal battle cries. They located and captured the insurgent cell of 11 men before sunset and released the kidnapped boy. The tribesmen reportedly handed over their prisoners to the Ramadi Police Directorate. Also, a mass grave with the corpses of 16 missing residents of the village was discovered at the nearby Al-Shadda area.

A Turkmen political leader announced that his party has formed an armed militia to protect the Iraqi Turkmen community from rising attacks and persecution in the northern city of Kirkuk, according to the Al-Melaf website. Ali Mehdi Sadiq, head of the Turkmeneli Party, stated that Turkmen politicians, community leaders and businessmen are facing a “campaign of elimination,” which requires the formation of an armed Turkmen group. Sadiq warned that civil war would break out if Kirkuk becomes part of the Kurdistan Region and that it would spread to other parts of Iraq, claiming the lives of thousands of Arabs, Kurds and Turkmen, adding that this would not be in the benefit of Iraq or neighboring countries, such as Turkey. Sadiq also claimed that 600 thousand Kurds from the north of Iraq, Iran, Turkey and Syria have settled in Kirkuk in an effort to change the ethnically mixed city’s demographics.

Former Prime Minister and head of the National Iraqi List in Iraqi parliament Ayad Allawi verbally attacked Maliki’s government, describing it as a “sectarian government” and “Iran’s claw in Iraq,” during a diplomatic visit to Kuwait, according to the Sadrist Nahrain Net website. Allawi reportedly met with Kuwaiti officials to discuss Iraqi developments and was quoted in the Arab press as saying, “I am Shi’ite but I am not honored to be represented by a Shi’ite government such as that of Maliki.” The visit is part of a regional tour including Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and possibly Iran, according to sources in Allawi’s delegation. Unnamed Kuwaiti sources stated that Allawi requested Kuwaiti support for a possible non-sectarian national government in Iraq. The sources added that Allawi claimed he had convinced the Fadhila Party to withdraw from the United Iraqi Alliance, the largest Shi’ite bloc in parliament, and that he secured promises from other parties to withdraw in the future. Nahrain Net said that Fadhila Party sources had denied Allawi’s claims and that the party (15 seats) intends to work as a separate bloc inside parliament.

Al-Dar Al-Iraqi had reported today that Judge Wael Abdul Latif (Shi’ite, independent), a member of Allawi’s bloc in parliament, withdrew from Allawi’s bloc and joined the Shi’ite United Iraqi Alliance bloc, according to unnamed sources in the UIA. The media bureau of the National Iraqi List refused to confirm but said that their members are free to join other blocs. Judge Abdul Latif, an independent Shi’ite politician from Basrah, was part of the UIA slate in Iraqi Parliament during the interim government of Prime Minister Ibrahim Al-Ja’fari but later joined Allawi’s list during the late 2005 parliamentary elections.

The Iraqi Rabita’s correspondent in Baghdad reported the latest developments on the streets in Baghdad: U.S. troops and Iraqi Public Order Brigade forces entered the Amiriya district, southwest of Baghdad, and clashed with unknown gunmen. Clashes were also reported in the Sunni-majority Adil district west of Baghdad. Several mortar rounds hit the Dawudi district but with no casualties. Mahdi Army militias have suddenly disappeared from their areas of control west of Baghdad in the Shi’ite-majority districts of Washash and Iskan. The correspondent suspects that they were tipped off by Iraqi troops because they left the area overnight, after they openly manned checkpoints just two days ago. He added the militiamen used to dump four or five corpses every night near the railroad area in Iskan, but none were found over the last two days. Mahdi Army militias continue to maintain a presence in the districts of Shu’la, Hurriya, Ma’alif, Bayya’, Risala and Jihad in western Baghdad, according to the website. The mentioned districts have not been included so far in the security operation. The correspondent said that the only notable difference after the security operation is a fall in mortar attacks between different neighborhoods, and that nighttime attacks by the Mahdi Army against Sunni areas have ceased because of the presence of U.S. troops at “sectarian fault lines” or borders between Sunni and Shi’ite districts.

SCIRI’s Buratha News Agency reports complaints from Shi’ite families residing in the mixed districts of Saidiya, Shurta and Muwasalat, south of Baghdad. Sunni insurgents continue to attack Shi’ite residents in these areas, according to the website, while most marketplaces have closed and streets are deserted.

The Association of Muslim Scholars in Iraq issued statement no. 384, condemning the attacks with chlorine gas trucks that targeted checkpoints in Ramadi and Amiriyat Al-Fallujah and a reception at the residence of a tribal leader Friday, killing and poisoning dozens of citizens. The association described the attacks with unconventional weapons as “illegal, immoral and inhumane.” In another statement, the association decried the detention of 45 persons at the town of Ana, west of Iraq, by U.S. and Iraqi forces following a mortar attack against the U.S. military base in the area. Residents alleged that five of the detainees, who were named in the association’s statement, were found dead later in the sewage disposal, with severe injuries and disfiguration in their heads. The Haqq Agency reported that residents have threatened to escalate attacks against U.S. troops in the area if they fail to offer an explanation for the killings. 16 more people from the Qadisiya district in Ana were detained Saturday, according to Haqq.

The fundamentalist Islam Memo website reports through eyewitness accounts that Interior Ministry commandos cordoned the mixed Ali Al-Zagam village near Taji, north of Baghdad, and detained dozens of people in the area. Haqq Agency’s correspondent in Taji reported that Iraqi troops damaged properties and set fire to several houses, while shouting sectarian slogans against Sunnis and threatening them with deportation, according to residents.

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